CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bryce Harper needed to know if he could call Philadelphia home, so he turned to a South Jersey native for help.
He turned to Mike Trout.
“I talked to him a lot,” Harper said Saturday afternoon, following his introductory news conference at Spectrum Field. “From November, all the way through the process.”
Trout is a Millville, N.J., native. He has Eagles season tickets. He attended the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship parade. He knows the city, and he knows its fans. Harper said his back and forth with Trout over the winter proved invaluable as he contemplated where he wanted to spend the rest of his baseball career.
“Just seeing where he grew up in Philly, things like that,” Harper said. “I played with him in the [Arizona] Fall League [in 2011], and we’ve kept in contact over the last seven years. But just trying to get a hometown kid to tell me what he felt, how he felt about the organization and the area and things like that. He’s a kid who grew up seeing the Phillies have success, so going through those times with the fans and things like that. It was good to get his perspective and hear how he felt.”
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, said one reason Harper did not want an opt-out in his record-breaking contract is because he wanted to recruit players to join him in Philadelphia. Harper sounds ready to recruit Trout, who is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2020 season.
In fact, he might have already started.
“I'm making $26 [million] a year, something like that, so I think that's going to be able to bring some other guys in as well to be able to help this organization win,” Harper said, referring to his relatively low average annual value. “I know there's another guy in about two years that comes off the books. We'll see what happens with him.”
Philly might implode if Trout joined Harper in the same outfield.
Imagine them just being at an Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field late this fall.
Has Harper gotten an invite yet?
“I haven’t yet,” Harper said. “But me being in a place for a long period of time, having the trust in the ownership that I do, I’m able to do that, I’m able to recruit whoever wants to be able to come here, in the right way, I guess you could say. We want to be good for a long period of time, and if I’m able to have the trust in our ownership and they have the trust me, we’re going to be able to do that.”